The most important lesson with Tokyo, one that many of us tend to learn the hard way, is that it's best not to get too attached. For all the talk about "old meets new" in the tourism campaigns, the capital treats physical remnants of its past with the same reverence that Marie Kondo has for household clutter.

In this ever-mutating metropolis, the Imperial Palace and the shrines and temples wedged between office blocks are the only things that are truly sacred. Everything else is negotiable. Like an aging movie star, the city is constantly finding excuses to have some "work" done: a little nip and tuck here, a few extra skyscrapers there.

During the 2010s, ambitious redevelopment projects have reshaped Tokyo, intent on smoothing out imperfections that had once seemed an intrinsic part of the landscape. From Toranomon to Musashi-koyama, entire blocks have been razed, as the last few relics of a scruffier postwar past gave way to gleaming, aspirational high-rises.